When Victor Krait, a Jeremy Irons look-alike and “functional psychopath,” is released from prison after serving 12 years for bank robbery, he’s fixated on one thought: murdering Jack Stiles, the Los Angeles police officer who killed his co-conspirator, Raphael Parra, and botched their heist. And if Traci Little, Stiles’ partner and the cop who held a gun to Krait’s head that day, winds up dead too, then all the better.
Stiles and Little have remained partners but are now homicide detectives for the LAPD’s Hollywood Division. They’re also lovers–an indiscretion that their boss, Lieutenant John Luttwak, conceals from the department. Luttwak values Stiles and Little as his most skilled team, and he doesn’t want them dismissed from his squad.
This is the set-up for Robert F. Kennedy’s novel, which spins out of control after this cursory introduction. Sporadic incidents of criminal activity burst into the narrative and seem to merit importance to the plot. There’s the murder of a soap opera star; the stabbing of a wife by her Bible-quoting husband; the shooting of a drugged-up hoodlum by an off-duty detective; and Krait’s killing of a cop. However, nothing ever hinges on these scenes. They’re gratuitous and perfunctory. A steady flow of grammatical blunders and clunky prose adds to the book’s haphazardness.
Kennedy strives to construct a tale about the rigors of police work and the men and women who make their careers in law enforcement. Ultimately, he misses the mark. His characters lack vitality, and there isn’t sufficient storytelling to elicit the novel’s intended emotional tension.
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